Front Toward Enemy

February / 2021
Veteran Stories
Author: Jason Gardner

The M18A1 Claymore anti-personnel mine. A pound and a half of C4 and 700 steel balls.

In the SEAL Teams generally these would be command detonated to initiate an ambush or to defend a perimeter. We could also arm it with a short time-fuse and employ it as a pursuit deterrent in the event we were on the run. The directions are fairly simple- FRONT TOWARD ENEMY. 

On the battlefield the last place you want the enemy is on your flank or rear. I try to apply this to life in general. Identify your enemy, and face it.

Fear, insecurity, laziness, self-doubt, jealousy- these are enemies we encounter every single day. Face them head on. If you suffer from anxiety it is likely that it is caused by some fear you’re avoiding. Look at it directly. Come up with a plan on how to deal with or manage that fear.

When I am orienting myself toward the enemy, oftentimes that means looking in the mirror. What are those habits that I need to change? What are those negative thought loops I get trapped in?

The advice of the Claymore mine is very clear. FRONT TOWARDS ENEMY.

If I orient my attention toward those negative habits and thought patterns, if I come up with a plan, if I change them, if I orient myself towards that laziness, anger, resentment, jealousy, hatred and fear- I can defeat them. Or at least figure out how to manage them. 

I need to lean into that boulder I am pushing uphill, and enjoy the effort.


Jason Gardner is a former U.S. Navy SEAL, combat leader, and now a leadership instructor and speaker with Echelon Front. Jason spent nearly three decades in the SEAL Teams with nine deployments across the globe. With experience operating in violent cities in both Iraq and Afghanistan, Jason has seen first-hand the power of the leadership lessons taught at Echelon Front. He brings perspective from every level of leadership from a front line SEAL sniper to the SEAL Team FIVE Command Master Chief . As a lead instructor for Naval Special Warfare Group One Training Detachment, he created and implemented realistic and challenging special operations combat training to better prepare SEAL units for the real-world battlefield. Throughout his career, he worked alongside Jocko, Leif, and several members of the Echelon Front team developing the same principles and mindsets taught to companies across every industry. He is the recipient of the Silver Star, two Bronze Stars, a Purple Heart and numerous other awards. After his retirement from the US Navy, Jason brings unmatched experience with combat leadership in dynamic environments, building winning teams, and developing relationships across all levels of an organization. He serves as a leadership instructor, speaker, and strategic advisor at Echelon Front.